Publisher Dream Review
Ever have dreams about developing and publishing video games for a living? Well, if you have, Publisher Dream – a DSiWare game published by Circle Entertainment – lets you live out your dream, well, at least the publishing side of things. Publisher Dream is a video game publisher simulation that lets you control the decisions your company makes.
Upon starting Publisher Dream, you are immediately put to work as the owner of Triangle, an aspiring video game publisher given nine years to become successful. There is a short introduction when you start, and then it’s off to make some games. You start with $100,000 in capital and two employees that are eager to start creating. To get started, you’ll need to open the menu by tapping it on the touchscreen, then choosing the controller icon to start a project. It’s pretty easy to get started, but your options are limited in the beginning.
You can only work with three genres in the beginning – Puzzle, Education, and Card – and only have the option create small games. Once you have selected a genre, you must then assign employees to a role, choose an outsourced musician to create the soundtrack, and assign promotional costs – higher promo costs will usually result in higher sales. Small games only require a designer and programmer, but eventually need to start assigning planners and managers, as you unlock medium and large projects. As you play, you’ll also unlock new genres, all of which level up dependant on how often you work with the genre. Levelling up genres seemed to make my development team work faster on those genres, so it’s worth the grinding efforts.
The amount your games sell will be largely based on two attributes: attraction and score. To increase the score of your game, you must assign your employees according to their stats. There are three stats to pay attention to when assigning employees their role: design, logic, and management. Someone who is high in design will be a better representative for the role of designer, while someone higher in logic will excel at programming. Once everything is set, all there is to do is sit back and wait for your employees to do their magic. Once the game is developed, you set a price – higher prices will reduce the game’s attraction and score – and it will start selling on the fictional cShop within two weeks.
A day of development in Publisher Dream – from 9 A.M. to 6 P.M. – is actually considered a week. There are four weeks to a month, and 12 months to the year for a total of 48 possible work weeks. A game will only sell for 24 weeks on the cShop, meaning your game will sell for just half of the year.
Your employees will also get stressed out as they work on projects, and the more stress they feel, the longer the game will take to develop. Plus, to start a new project, you will need to have a certain amount of energy available; otherwise you need to let your employees rest. To help with both of these attributes, you can add Fitments, such as furniture and plants, to your office space. These fitments will also help with other attributes, as well, but they are expensive and require a monthly maintenance fee. Speaking of fees, you’ll have to ensure you have enough cash to cover monthly expenses.
You receive payment for your games’ sales after every quarter, so you’ll need to be aware of your capital when making decisions. If your expenses exceed your capital, you will be forced to borrow money to keep your operation afloat – if this happens three times, it will be game over for you.
Eventually, as you obtain milestones, you will move into a larger office space, meaning you can recruit more employees. More employees mean you can increase your development output, but you can only work on four projects at a time. In addition to monthly maintenance fees, you’ll also need to pay monthly salaries. Salaries are determined by an employee’s stats; the higher an employee’s stats, the higher their salary will be. Of course, salaries will increase as your employees level up.
For the most part, as you can probably tell, there isn’t a lot of substance regarding the gameplay of Publisher Dream. You choose a genre, size, and then assign employees based on their stats. There is little variety to the formula, and as long as you make smart decisions, you will stay above water. It’s strangely addictive, but also quite monotonous. There are a few small things that break up the monotony, such as investing in third-party developers, and changing the background music to affect your development team’s output. You can also read through your company’s sales and stats if you get bored, or try to unlock some of the game’s built-in achievements.
Visually, Publisher Dream is easy on the eyes, though you will be looking at the same thing during every week of in-game time. Regardless, I find its isometric, pixel style appealing, although, I wish I could say the same about the game’s music. At best, the music is generic, average and repetitive, and adds little personality to the overall game.
As I said above, Publisher Dream is strangely addictive, but I could only take its monotonous structure in chunks. For $1.99 (or 200 Points), you get a game that will last you about six hours, more if you desire a second play. After the six hour mark is up, you will have finished your ninth year as a video game publisher, and the game will end. I was a little disappointed that I couldn’t continue playing because I had more milestones, achievements, and genres to unlock. To see absolutely everything, you will have to dedicate yourself to learning every nuance of this Publisher Dream. This game might be an OK choice for those seeking a neat simulation title, but it won’t appeal to everyone.
6/10 – Above Average